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EcommerceBytes-NewsFlash, Number 2595 - July 27, 2011 - ISSN 1539-5065    2 of 4

USPS Answers Seller Questions about Its New Website

By Ina Steiner
EcommerceBytes.com
July 27, 2011




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The U.S. Postal Service rolled out its new, redesigned website over the weekend. Online sellers who use the site to print postage or schedule carrier pickups ran in to hiccups as the site rolled out on Sunday (it completed the process that day), and some had questions about functionality of the new site which is up and running this week.

USPS General Manager of Digital Access Joseph K. Adams told EcommerceBytes that the organization has been getting great feedback on the newly designed site. "Initial feedback indicates that users appreciate the more organized, cleaner and up to date design."

We asked Adams about some of the questions we've heard from online sellers about the new site, including a report on the EcommerceBytes EcommerceEKG board.

Question: USPS has unveiled a new website and I am finding parts of it nonfunctional. In an attempt to schedule a carrier pick-up, the page has been divided into 3 sections and sections 2 and 3 are dead. No way pick a date, put in the number packages or finalize the scheduled pick-up.

Joseph K. Adams: The new site offers a simple, one page form for customers to request a carrier pickup of their package. It is divided into sections, and customers must complete the first section before they can move on to the other sections. This is for functional reasons, so the system can insure that the service is, in fact, offered at that address before the customer fills out the entire page. I do not believe there is an error. I believe that if the user were to fill out the form, it should work properly for them.

Question: The new USPS web site went live over the weekend, and there has been a change to the Track and Confirm process which will be of concern for Internet buyers and sellers alike. Under the old Track and Confirm process, it was possible to personalize T & C emails. Under that old process, a seller was able to enter their first and last name, or their seller ID and the website their item was sold on so that when their buyer received the email from USPS, they would have a clear idea of who the package was coming from. With the redesigned website, USPS has eliminated the ability for sellers to enter any information to personalize the T & C emails. The inability to enter personal ID information reduces the effectiveness of the T & C email.

Buyers will still receive an email letting them know a package is on it's way, but they will have no way of knowing who sent them the package as they did with the old T & C flow.

Joseph K. Adams: There is no loss of functionality with the new site. The USPS offers users the ability to send emails with tracking information about shipments. There was a question about whether a seller can add information to the email. This particular feature did not exist in the prior version of the Track and Confirm application, and also does not exist in the new version.

It is possible that the posting user was thinking about the feature available in the Click N' Ship application (rather than in the Track and Confirm application). This feature is offered for users who print shipping labels using Click N' Ship. It is currently available and functional.

To offer extra convenience for different users, we made it possible to send emails from either of these applications, but there is the slight difference that the user cannot customize the email from Track and Confirm. There is no loss of functionality with the new site.

The feature mentioned in Track and Confirm did exist 5-7 years ago, but was removed due to invalid editing of tracking events by users. So, the change was made several years ago (prior to the redesign) to have one official message that cannot be edited or misunderstood.

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About the author:

Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com.

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